Due to sheer laziness and lack of motivation I’d left the chore of scoring September turns to the very last minute. The upside to my procrastination was that I would be able to kill two birds--or in this case, months--with one stone (i.e. trip). So it was that on the morning of September 30th I loaded up my Taco Mama with ski and camping gear and began the trek down to my goto late summer/early fall skiing spot: Dunderberg Peak.
Given my mellow departure schedule, unforeseen road work delays, and the obligatory stop for uber cheap gas, I found myself sauntering onto the plateau at the foot of Jack’s Glacier, up on Kavanaugh Ridge near the north east base of Dunderberg a little after three o’clock in the afternoon.
A quick survey of Jack’s Glacier revealed that it had shrunk considerably since I’d skied it almost a month-and-a-half earlier. It also displayed a prominent expanse of shiny, grey ice, and not just any kind of ice, but rather the kind that is textured like the surface of the moon if it had chronic acne. Needless to say, I wisely decided not to ski it (visions of The Man Who Skied Everest kept dancing through my mind).
My Name is not Kristi Yamaguchi. Plus I left my skates at home (Jack's Glacier looking rather uninviting).
In lieu of Jack’s, I committed to the 30-minute hike to Hidden Samurai Snowfield, the other year-round expanse of snow in the area. Sadly, by the time I got within eye shot I was treated to a similar scenario: the snowfield was riddled with corrugated ice, silvery runnels of death, and deeply frozen sun-cups. Additionally, 2/3 of it was already in the shade, meaning that whatever little skiable snow there was to be had was now in the process of setting up. That Man Who Skied Everest clip ran through my mind again.
Hidden Samurai Snowfield ripe for an Ice Pirate harvesting mission (looking just as, if not more, uninviting than Jack's).
It didn’t take me long to realize that the longer I contemplated what I was going to ski, the worse the conditions were going to get--though given the encroaching dusk and the high winds, things couldn’t get much worse than they already were. I quickly scoured the surrounding slope, eventually decided upon a relatively large patch to looker’s left of the snowfield, and made a b-line towards it.
I soon arrived at the base of a large driveway-sized patch that consisted of boot deep new snow (it had snowed a few days the week before). However, given the relative freshness of said snow, there was really no discernible base: I found myself post-holing down to ice, layered on top of volcanic talus. Additionally, several sections of the patch were rather sparse, with “sharks” lurking just under a thin crust of fluff. This was going to be an interesting ski.
Gettin' all Nancy Sinatra with the boot-pack.
My first run consisted of four turns, being careful to avoid the aforementioned sharks. My second run was a nice, Selachimorpha-free two-turn number, followed by a third, and final run comprised of four turns, thus meeting my mandatory 10-turn requirement. With dusk creeping faster over the horizon, not to mention the non-stop brisk wind, and not wishing to scrape away what little snow still remained on the small slope, I decided to call it a day and headed back to my truck.
First run and four turns...
Apres ski consisted of a couple of Sierra Nevadas, a half-bottle of Italian red, some pasta, and a chocolate chunk cookie for desert. After reading a chapter in Ian Fleming’s You Only Live Twice, I hunkered down for the night. And what an interesting night it turned out to be. The wind continued to howl like Allen Ginsberg on fire, releasing massive gusts that shook my truck something fierce--several times throughout the night I thought my truck was going to be toppled over and roll down the ridge side!
Tuesday morning brought an orange-tinged bronze sunrise that was nothing short of breathtaking. The damn wind was still howling, too. I slept in until shortly after 9, hoping for the wind to die down and allow the sun to beam down on the surrounding hillside and soften up the snow. No such luck. By 10:30 I decided it was now or never and loaded up my gear and headed toward a patch I’d spied the evening before. It was larger and wider than my September ski, but once I got closer it revealed itself to be riddled with silvery slabs of ice and plenty of rocks.
October's ski hill...
Once upon the snow itself, it proved to be a wonderful mixture of breakable crust over week-old fresh, again with no accumulated base whatsoever. Furthermore, several sections were comprised of slick, barely (as in not really at all) edgeable expanses of what I can only describe as Eastern Sierra boilerplate.
I spent the first 30-minutes poking around the lower portion of the slope, breaking up the crust with several bouts of short hop turns, trying to get a feel for the incredibly uneven conditions. After logging 12 turns in this manner, I decided to boot-pack up the looker’s right section of the patch, which was a semi-half pipe chute bordered by unskiable ice on one side and large rocks on the other. I hiked as far as I could given my lack of an axe and crampons, spent a good 10-minutes scraping off the frozen fluff that had chosen to glom itself onto the soles of my boots, and finally managed to squeeze out five consecutive turns down the narrow gully. I bypassed hiking back up in favor of knocking out a final three turns lower on the patch and called it a day after a grand total of 20 turns. The wind never let up the entire time I was skiing, which kept the snow nice and firm and added a brisk, “invigorating” element to the day.
Gettin' all creme brulee up in there.
I was back at my truck, loaded up, and on the road by 11:45. I celebrated the endeavor with a waffle cone filled with vanilla and chocolate swirled soft-serve dipped in chocolate at Walker Burger in the bustling burg of Walker.
And thus my consecutive month streak was kept alive with this twofer adventure.
Sunny Day Real Estate - How It Feels To Be Something On (Sub Pop)
Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth - Mecca and the Soul Brother (Elektra)
Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream (Virgin)
Blizzard Magnum 8.7
Tecnica Inferno 130
Flylow Stash pants
Edited by dookey67 - 10/7/13 at 10:10am